Girls Volleyball: Local volleyball teams joining the fight as former York star Sarah Rose battles cancer

Sarah Rose has always been a tenacious competitor on the volleyball court, all the way back to when she was a middle schooler in Elmhurst attending Patty Iverson’s camps at York Community High School.

She’s now in a fight much more serious than volleyball.

The local volleyball community is joining Rose, a 2017 York graduate, in that fight.

Rose, a star setter at York who is now a senior at Marquette and member of the school’s volleyball team, was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma last September. The rare strain of pediatric cancer grows in the bones or soft tissue around the bones.

Rose had to make the decision to move back to Illinois for treatment and miss her senior volleyball season. Rose finished radiation in February and has nine months of chemotherapy treatments at the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago scheduled to conclude in May.

“She’s doing great, seems to be doing very well,” said Iverson, York’s volleyball coach, who texts with Rose every week to check up on her.

Marquette’s athletic teams in February showed their support for Rose by wearing gold jerseys, bracelets and shoelaces as part of a campaign called #Gold4Sarah.

Now York is taking part.

This Thursday, when York hosts Lyons Township for a girls volleyball match, players and coaches will wear one green shoelace and one gold shoelace. Working with the Lurie Children’s Circle of Friends program, they have set a goal to raise $5,000, with proceeds going to support the Lurie pediatric cancer research and treatment program in honor of Rose. Iverson said they have already raised over $2,400.

“Sarah played with the First Alliance club program and many of their practices are at LT, and since most of the LT girls played club with or knew Sarah we thought why don’t we do this when we play them,” Iverson said. “First Alliance had another young lady who had Ewing Sarcoma, I coached a young man who had Ewing Sarcoma. Cancer has been in the volleyball community. We’re happy to fight against it and raise awareness to create funds for research.”

Rose told gomarquette.com that she first suspected something wasn’t right in September when she started getting really bad back pain that spread down to her legs. She started having numbness in her legs and shooting pain that she had never felt before. Rose went to the team doctor, who sensed something was wrong as he was poking at her legs and couldn’t feel anything.

The doctor later that night told Rose he had found a soft tissue tumor on her spine. After a visit with her parents to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic, a biopsy revealed it was Ewing Sarcoma.

Rose then made the decision to move back to Illinois for treatment.

“I was devastated,” Rose told gomarquette.com. “It was really, really hard for me because it was supposed to be my senior season, and I was really excited to play with all my teammates again.”

Rose is finishing her undergraduate degree in communication studies with a marketing minor virtually from home, while she had chemotherapy eight times a month.

“When I first heard about it, I couldn’t believe it,” Iverson said. “Of all people, they’re a very healthy family. I’m just so happy that she is doing well.”

Rose gave a pregame speech to her team before Marquette’s game against DePaul Feb. 12. She recorded an ace for the first point in the Golden Eagles’ match against Iowa State Feb. 27.

Iverson will read a statement on Rose’s behalf at Thursday’s match, and a banner will be put up in addition to funds being raised.

“Sarah is just a tenacious volleyball player,” Iverson said. “As a middle schooler she would come to our camp and [Iverson’s daughter] Emily would work with Sarah during the breaks. Her and Emily would just love doing drills. She’s a wonderful young woman. We’re happy to support her and happy to know she’s doing well.”

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.